STUART, VA – There’s no better place to be this holiday season than in your own hometown, and no better way to get in the spirit of the season than by participating in some of the many events scheduled throughout our county for Hometown Christmas. The Christmas season officially kicks off on Main Street in Stuart on Friday, December first with the second annual "Grand Illumination" tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. in front of the courthouse. The tree features ornaments created by county art students. Holiday music will fill the streets and include performances by the Stuart Presbyterian bell choir and the PCHS Praise and Worship Team. Merchants on Main Street will extend their Friday hours to allow shoppers plenty of time to take care of their holiday shopping. Hometown Christmas continues Saturday, December second with a day jam-packed with holiday celebrations and plenty more shopping opportunities, including the Mistletoe Market at Stuart Farmers' Market (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and holiday bazaars at Stuart United Methodist Church (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Stuart Elementary School (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Check out the Festival of Trees at the library Open House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., include your family pet in Hometown Christmas with Santa pictures at Pet Provisions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and don't forget to stop by On the Run for some free hot chocolate! New this year is a passport that can be stamped by participating merchants on Friday and Saturday and turned in to the Chamber office before Saturday's parade. Three lucky winners will receive a very special Patrick County gift basket. Passports will be available at participating merchants, the Chamber office and W.H.E.O. After a morning of shopping, find a spot to watch the 46th annual Christmas Parade as it winds its way to downtown Stuart. Beginning at 2 p.m., this year's parade is themed "Gearing up for Christmas" and features Clay Campbell of Martinsville Speedway as Grand Marshal. One Family Productions, new parade organizers, will honor past Jaycee members as the parade torch is passed from one civic organization to another. This would be a perfect time to experience the simple life of Patrick County by shopping locally, supporting your community and joining in the festivities of the season. Patrick County's Hometown Christmas weekend is a joint community outreach service of local merchants, the Patrick County Tourism and Chamber of Commerce offices, W.H.E.O., One Family Productions, the Town of Stuart and Patrick County Public Schools. For more information on these or other county-wide events, please contact the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce at 276-694-6012 or the Patrick County Tourism Office at 694-6094.